Huddersfield University students worried their fight against fees was underminded by violence
HUDDERSFIELD students travelling back from a London protest last night told how they were worried their fight against fees had been undermined by a violent minority.
Some 200 local students joined a 50,000-strong demonstration in the capital to protest against controversial plans to triple tuition fees.
But the peaceful protest turned to chaos as balaclava-clad youths smashed their way into the London headquarters of the Conservative party.
Eight people were taken to hospital with injuries as windows were smashed and fires were lit.
University of Huddersfield Students Union vice-president Ben Hall told the Examiner that fortunately none of the Huddersfield students were caught up in the violence.
He said: “As soon as our group saw them pull on their balaclavas, we moved our students out and away from the trouble. Our members are a bit disappointed that some other people got out of hand and they hope the day hasn’t been wasted.”
The protest turned sour at Millbank Tower, next to the River Thames.
Youths – some wearing scarves and balaclavas to hide their faces – smashed their way into the building.
A number of police officers were injured and eight people were taken to hospital.
The demonstration, organised by the National Union of Students and the University and College Union, had started peacefully with the crowd marching from Whitehall past Downing Street and Parliament.
But around an hour after the protest started, violence flared at Millbank Tower – close to the Tate Britain art gallery where the march was due to end with a rally.
Hundreds of workers were evacuated from the building, which also houses other organisations including Government agencies.
Before the violence erupted, Huddersfield students were chanting ‘No ifs, no buts, stop the education cuts.’
Mr Hall said: “We went down there to fight fees and it’s a shame this has happened. But the response from our students has been fantastic – there were over 200 of us and more wanted to come but we just couldn’t afford the coaches.
“But it is a strong cause and it was just a minority of people causing trouble and was definitely not any students from Huddersfield.”